11th February 1878
Reference Numbert18780211-260
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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260. JOHN HACKETT (24), Feloniously killing and slaying John Patrick O'Connell. He was also charged on the Coroner's Inquisition with the like offence. MR. TICKKELL conducted the Prosecution; and MR. COLLINS the Defence.

HUNRY RUSHBROOK . I reside at 64, Popham Road, Islington—I was foreman bricklayer in the defendant's employ on the buildings in Kenmere Road, Hackney—the deceased was also a bricklayer employed by Mr. Hackett—the houses consist of a row of five—I remember the deceased working on the house next to the end of the five on 16th January—I remember the wall falling—it was the end wall of the fifth house—I did not see it fall—it fell out—I saw the deceased taken out alive, somewhere about half-past 3—he was employed in building a wall in connection with the houses which were being constructed, in connection with the wall that fell; in the house that was going to be commenced next to it—he was getting the footings in for the adjacent house.

Cross-examined. I did not come there till the 8th.

GEORGE LEGG . I am district surveyor for West Hackney—I visited these houses on four or five occasions—I was there on 11th January—the wall was then nearly up to the roof—it was a nine-inch wall, with 14 inches base on the basement story, and the roof was not on—if the roof had been on this would not have happened, because it would get

a protection from frost and changes of atmosphere, and it would have made a tie to keep it in its place—I complained of the mortar to one of the men, not the defendant—the mortar was not good enough; it was unequal—it had not been knocked about enough to make it assimilate with the sand which was with it—some of the mortar was very good, because they have tossed it and kicked it about, and that made an effect on it.

By the COURT. Some of the sand was sharper than the rest—Hackney is first-rate gravel and they dig it out, and use the sand for their mortar—I apprehend it was mixed with that—the rest was from brick rubbish which had been brought into the road—there was no road sand that I noticed—you could not tell after the lime was with it, but it made the mortar dark and it looked worse than it really was, because a gentleman had some of it washed and he found more sharp sand than he expected.

By MR. TICKELL. I do not think the wall that fell was so good as the other; the mortar was not so good—if it had been dry weather, and the lime had had time sufficient to set, I have no doubt that with the roof on it would have been standing now—I went there on four or five occasions—it was on the second occasion, in the earlier part of December, that I first noticed the character of the mortar—I spoke to the foreman on that occasion—we call the foreman down or speak to him on the scaffoldwith a 9-inch wall the bricks were different; some were old and some were new, that made it bad for the plastering—I saw Hackett on two or three other occasions, and noticed the mortar then; it varied at differenttimes—it depends upon how they mix it, and I told him again that he must do his work better, and on the 11 th we saw the irregularity and served him with this notice by post. (This stated that the defendant was not conforming to the rules of the Building Act. It required him within 48 hours to render the building conformable to the Act; and required the walls to be properly bonded and put together, not less than one brick and a half thick in the lowest story.) I do not say there that the whole was to be taken down; I treat it generally—it could be properly bonded without taking down—I gave him a week to do it in—he promised to do it, and commenced working at it—the week had not expired—after I served that notice he called on me in the City, with a friend—I told him he must do the work better and explained what he would have to do—that was on Monday, the 14th—I told him his mortar must be better, and the labour must be put together better—he first of all urged that it was very good—I told him that he would have to underpin part of it and bond it in cement—he said he would do all that was required—I told him if he did not he would find himself at Worship Street the next week, and probably the week after at the Old Bailey, for manslaughter—I said that to make him do his work properly—I spoke figuratively, to impress it on his mind; not that I had anything in my mind but that when I saw him again he would do the work—this was on the Tuesday—they thickened the back wall, but they had not done anything to this wall—he said the materials were good; I said they were very bad—I think I said they were the worst that I had seen—the labour was bad, the way in which it was put together—the mortar had not enough lime in it, and the building was run up too quickly—I only know Hackett through the notice—I saw him again after the accident—I saw the building on the Tuesday, Hackett was then at work on it—I inspected the premises after the accident—the fall of the wall was caused by the premature removal of the

seaffold, which had shaken the wall, the roof not being on it, which would have acted as a tie and maintained the wall in its place—when I saw it the feetlogs had not been taken out—I do not know whether the holes where the feetlogs were had been stopped—the scaffold was taken down on the day of the accident—if the mortar had not been used so quickly, and had been of a better description, it would have prevented the accident.

Cross-examined. The mortar ought to have been better mixed; the labourers do that—it was windy that afternoon—in my opinion the bricklayers had run up the wall too quickly; there had been no dry weather, and there had been frosts at night, and this being only a 9-inch wall and the mortar not being properly mixed it acted on the mortar—I gave him a week to do it in, and he was at work, but it unfortunately fell before the week expired.

Re-examined. It was gusty that day, and I should have preferred keeping the scaffold up; that would have been a stay to the wall—I do not know how many men were at work there, I saw four or five—they were doing their work quickly.

JOHN HAMILTON . I live at 63, Nightingale Road, and am Mr. Legg's clerk—he directed me to go to these houses, and I went three or four times before the accident, but noticed nothing with regard to this particular wall—I saw it on 11th January—the whole of the premises were not such good work as we usually put in that class of buildings—I have had to overlook work before—I noticed that the mortar was bad, and first spoke to the foreman about it in November, with reference to that block of houses, but not in reference to that particular house; they were not all going on then—I only knew that John Hackett was building the houses from the notice that was given—he found the money, but I do not know who was the actual builder—I do not know the name of the man I spoke to—he was not engaged on that particular house, and I did not see him in reference to it—once I saw the foreman and once Mr. Hackett—I told him that the work was not going on well, the mortar was bad, and that I had not seen worse—I spoke generally with regard to the three houses—I was then outside the buildings on the ground, and they were working on the sixth house—I have been with Mr. Legg from 1862—Hackett said that he had not seen me there before—I told him to do his work better; the wall was then very nearly up—I do not think that wall was any worse than the other part of the same block of houses—I went there twice on the 11th, and on the second occasion with Mr. Legg—I did not see Hackett then—I do not think he was there in the afternoon, but Mr. Legg spoke to the foreman—I knew nobody as the builder but Hackett—there were four or five men on that block—I saw the premises after the wall fell—I did not direct my attention to the wall—I was with Mr. Legg, and I had no authority—I think the wall fell because the bricklayer who laid the bricks did not put the work together well and built it too quickly—I looked at the mortar; it was bad, and was part of the same which I had described as the worst I had ever seen—that had partly caused the fall, because it had not had time to set—I saw them removing the scaffold-poles on the morning of the accident—I saw the defendant on the morning of the accident, when I went to the building, but I did not speak to him because he had had the notice to alter it, and I did not go on the building—I did not notice that it was windy.

Cross-examined. Some of the mortar was not so bad—I was there time after time looking over it, as Mr. Legg's deputy.

FREDERICK TAYLOR . I live at 72, Neville Road, Stoke Newington, and am clerk and timekeeper employed by the defendant on these buildings—I have no particular knowledge of constructing premises—I am a clerk, my duties were to see that the workmen did sufficient work to entitle them to their wages—a man named Brown was building these houses, he was the sub-contractor—Hackett was the builder, but Brown took the whole of the brick work at 25l. 10s. per house—Hackett found the materials and Brown the labour—no materials were used that I know of except those supplied by Hackett—Brown was paid weekly, by instalments, according to the number of rods, and he used to ask for so much money, and if the work was done we let him have it—Mr. Brown is not here—I supplied him with the materials for the buildings and to make the mortar, and there was no limit to the price or quantity—I supplied him with lime and sand and all other materials as much as he required—no one ever complained to me. NOT GUILTY .

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